UCF’s Richard Lapchick recently found his name mentioned alongside some other sports-world greats such as Muhammad Ali, David Beckham and Billie Jean King.
Lapchick, director of The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport, was named as one of the Beyond Sport Inspirational 50 people who has used sport to change the world. Beyond Sport is the umbrella organization that has led an international movement to bring together groups and individuals to use sport for social change.
The announcement was made in London, and in addition to the living honorees also included some athletes posthumously, such as Olympic medalist Jesse Owens and baseball great Jackie Robinson.
The human-rights activist, author and educator, who often has been described as “the racial conscience of sport,” led the boycott of South African participation in international sport events in the 1970s, particularly tennis’ Davis Cup, because of the nation’s apartheid policies. Lapchick was physically attacked in February 1978 just as it looked like the Davis Cup was going to be canceled. His New York apartment was ransacked in 1981 while he was leading a protest against a South African rugby team scheduled to play in the United States.
Nelson Mandela personally invited Lapchick to his South African presidential inauguration. Since then, Lapchick has become an internationally recognized expert on sports and diversity.
Lapchick, also is director of the DeVos Sport Business Management program at UCF and publishes an annual racial and gender report card on sports teams and leagues.
He has worked with sports organizations such as NASCAR to provide diversity training, and more than 30 years ago started the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, a group of colleges, universities, organizations and individuals, to raise awareness of racism in sports. He previously was named as “One of the 100 Most Powerful People in Sport.”
Nick Keller, founder and chief executive of Beyond Sport, said the honorees “have led by example, broken new ground, established global movements, fought against prejudice and crossed divides…Each of their journeys and backgrounds is different, but they have all come to recognize that used correctly, sport can change the world.”
Lapchick also was named last week to the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame during the 26th annual induction dinner at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. The other inductees were two coaches and five basketball players who made their marks in New York.
Lapchick has had a long association with basketball. He was presented with the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award at the 2012 Naismith Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, and he also received the Life Achievement Award from the National Basketball Retired Players Association in 2014.
Lapchick earned an honorary degree in 2011 from St. John’s University in New York, where his father was the former basketball coach, and he is a regular columnist for ESPN.com and The Sports Business Journal.